McGinnis: The Case of Who Killed Lincoln?Written by Jeff McGinnis | | email@example.com
I think someone’s trying to kill me,” the man said as he sat down in my office.
I gazed at this odd guy from across my desk. I could swear I’d seen him somewhere before. Tall guy. Black suit. Beard with no mustache. Tall stovepipe hat. Hmm …. nah, can’t place it. Maybe he was a magician?
“That’s right, bunny … er, I mean, buddy,” I said, recovering smoothly. “Chik Chaos. I’m the guy who single-handedly determined that Harry Lime was framed and that Roger Rabbit acted alone. When you want a pop culture crime solved, I’m your man.”
“Well then, young man, you sound like just the investigatory personnel I need in my employ,” he replied.
What was this guy saying? Geez, what was he doing in Tinseltown? Certainly wasn’t trying to cash in on his looks. Tall, gangly fellow. Disgusting wart on his cheek that he really shoulda had removed if he was gonna last here in Hollywood. Poor guy. Were you born in a barn or log cabin or something? He doesn’t have a chance in this town, I thought.
“So why do you think someone’s after you, Frankenstein?” I asked sensitively.
“It all began four score and seven … sorry, force of habit. It began a few weeks ago, when my movie opened.”
Wait, this guy has a movie? Geez, they’ll give anyone a flick nowadays. What’s next, an “Evil Dead” remake with no Bruce Campbell? A gritty reimagining of Hansel and Gretel as monster hunters? Adam Sandler playing his own twin sister? Okay, I’ve said my peace.
“I went into a local cinema to see how the film turned out,” the man said. “I sat in a balcony facing the screen when suddenly I was overcome by this … feeling. A weird sense of déjà vu, like I’d been in this situation before. I wheeled around … and there was no one there.
“I sat there and I couldn’t enjoy the movie. I was convinced someone was lurking behind me the whole time, waiting to strike. It’s been like that ever since. I’ll be walking down the street, eating at Spago, filming Presidents Day commercials — and it’s always the same. Someone’s after me, I’m sure of it.”
I was barely listening at this point. For one thing, his story wasn’t that interesting. For another, I was sure I’d seen this guy before. But where? It finally dawned on me — black clothes? That beard? He’s Amish. I wondered what he thought of all this magical technology I had in my office, like the electric lights and the toilet he didn’t have to go outside to use.
“Sounds like you’ve got a healthy case of the paranoias, Man of the Land,” I said. “Now, I know out here among us English that things can be kinda scary, but I assure you we’re not all out to … ”
He slammed his fist on my desk. Dammit, be careful, Little House, I thought. I just had that fixed.
“No! I assure you, young man, this is not paranoia! I see shadows creeping up on me at night, feel the chill down my neck at all hours. I’ve been here before. I know what this means. Someone’s after me!”
“Right you are, Abe,” a new voice said.
We turned to see a new arrival. Young, pale kid with ridiculously tall hair. It was comically spiky, like his stylist had used a weed whacker while sticking his thumb in an electrical socket. He had fangs bared, but he was nothing like any vampire I’d ever seen before. In the midday sun, it almost looked like he was … sparkling? What the hell kind of vampires sparkled?
“I am killing you in the theaters, Abe,” the vampire said. “But in a totally different way than usual. You may be bringing in the older crowd, but the kids are all out for me! I’m completely outdrawing you, old man! Face it, this time you’re dying at the box office!”
The man with the hat paused. Then, he laughed. Loud and long.
“You?! I’ve been so scared of you?! Oh, what a fool I’ve been!” he exclaimed.
The man stood to face the vampire. “First of all, you may be beating me for now. But your audience dies out quickly. Very quickly. You dropped nearly 70 percent in your second week. My audience actually grew by 20 percent. They will keep coming back for weeks. Months, even. All the way to Oscar season.”
He began to reach into his hat. Ooh! Is it a rabbit? Please let it be a rabbit!
“Second, I don’t think you remember my … hobby.”
“What hobby?” the vampire asked.
“Well, you are aware that I had … two movies this year, right?” The man pulled a long, wooden stake out of his hat.
“Aww …” I sighed in disappointment.
The vampire, eyes wide, ran from my office. The man chased in hot pursuit. I sat alone for a second, then propped my feet on my desk.
“Another successful case,” I muttered.